Forthcoming Novel Earns Praise from Disparate Spheres: Science and Religion

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Already garnering intriguing reactions from the disparate spheres of science and religion, Stephen L. Gibson's forthcoming novel "A Secret of the Universe: A Story of Love, Loss, and the Discovery of an Eternal Truth" presents an innovative perspective on religious conflict.

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Already garnering intriguing reactions from the disparate spheres of science and religion, Stephen L. Gibson's forthcoming novel "A Secret of the Universe: A Story of Love, Loss, and the Discovery of an Eternal Truth" presents an innovative perspective on religious conflict.

"From our culture wars over evolution, stem cell research, and end-of-life care here at home, to global conflicts and terrorism abroad, there is an elephant in the room we're all afraid to acknowledge," says Stephen L. Gibson, author of "A Secret of the Universe: A Story of Love, Loss, and the Discovery of an Eternal Truth." The fact is, according to Gibson, that disagreements about religion -- and claims of infallible knowledge of a mysterious supernatural realm -- are at the center of virtually all of today's most pressing conflicts. That elephant is the focus of Gibson's seminal novel, described by publisher Truth-Driven Strategies as "Left Behind" meets "The God Delusion." To be released nationally in October 2007 (distributed by AtlasBooks), "A Secret of the Universe" is already garnering intriguing reactions from two disparate spheres: science and religion.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the author of several science-centered books, is a monthly columnist for "Scientific American," and is the Publisher of "Skeptic" magazine. He favorably contrasts Gibson's work of religious fiction with a supposedly non-fiction work that similarly promises answers to big questions. Shermer says, "A Secret of the Universe is a warm and inspiring story that offers a far deeper message than the other 'Secret' book so popular these days, but this secret is based in reality, always a good idea if you live in this universe and not some other."

From the field of religious studies, Tom Harpur offers a similar endorsement. Mr. Harpur is a retired Religion Editor for the "Toronto Star," and the best-selling author of "The Pagan Christ." He says, "Steve Gibson has given a wholly original spin to the age-old saga of the 'hero's journey' which we all must face in one way or another. This is a timely tale with profundities and depths far beyond the scope of most -- if not all -- first novels. A must read."

"A Secret of the Universe" is the story of two high-school pals from the Midwest for whom a personal tragedy sets in motion a journey of inquiry that spans a lifetime of cruel and glorious twists, and culminates in an astonishing discovery. The protagonist of the novel, Ian, wants answers his faith can't provide, so he abandons traditional religion and its magic, mysticism, and supernaturalism, turning instead to science and reason.

Bill's path has become that of a devoted Christian who sees the bountiful harvest that can be achieved through spirituality and faith. When profound revelations lead each friend to uncover shocking historical "secrets" in support of his own worldview, their odyssey plays out on a global stage, with tragic consequences. Only by embracing the inherent mystery and pain of their quest do Ian and Bill make the discovery that really matters--a genuine secret of the universe.

Back in Gibson's hometown, at least one local pastor welcomes the discourse that is likely to come from the book -- be it from the competing religious views at the core of the story, or from its broader exploration of the blind spots created by ardent political ideology, sexual ethics, and even alternative health practices. United Methodist Pastor Billie Dalton says the book "should be required reading for every seminary student." His enthusiasm even extended to co-authoring a free discussion guide with Gibson, something Dalton says he will use to guide discussions with his adult Sunday school classes.

So will America be ready to embrace the elephant in the room with kindness, tolerance, and intellectually honest discourse? "I think so," Gibson says, "but you can't really blame people for being gun-shy. Historically speaking, the only way we've seen religious beliefs and teachings critically examined is with a harsh word, the tip of sword, or the recoil of a gun. It's my hope that this story can begin a kinder, gentler segue to a healthy dialogue -- one that opens our minds to the possibility that dividing ourselves with dogmatic religion might obscure the deeper meaning of the bigger, mythological truths behind our faith systems. In the words of one of my central characters, 'Let it be, that we listen,' before we do something horrible to each other on a truly massive scale."

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